Tuesday, May 23, 2006

WHAT'S WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE?

waitress uniform

Last November when my agent called with the news that she had sold my novel, one of the first things I did was build a small pyre and burn my waitressing shoes. According to the pedometer I wore to work, I put on an average of 5-10 miles every shift four to five days a week in the season that stretches from May to October. In other words, those were some hammered shoes.

Anyway, the burning of those black shoes wasn't supposed to be merely ceremonial. It was supposed to trigger the end of my waitressing career. Only it didn't.

A month ago, when "the season" hit, some primal urge drove me back. Think of birds flying south in the winter, cats slithering off to die in the woods....that kind of hardwired animal instinct. When the captain called with my schedule, I found myself mysteriously ironing shirts, digging out aprons and nametag and punch card.

The only trouble is, I don't have any waitressing shoes. And I'm not buying another pair. Not ever. (At least, I hope I'm not.) So I showed up in this old pair of Sketchers from the back of my closet. Very un-regulation.

So far I'm getting away with it. And if someone calls me on it? Maybe I'll remember that acrid November smoke, and I'll finally get it: I don't have to do this anymore. Maybe it's all about the shoes, after all.

20 comments:

Jess D'Zerts said...

[Laughing...] Life is complicated enough, you wouldn't think they'd make it about the shoes, would you? But they do!

rdl said...

very funny and i can relate, i just bought me another pair.nw if the arm will only hold out. typinh with one hand.

Melly said...

Don't we just love doing it to ourselves?
But, hey, listen, waitressing can supply you with more writing material, can't it?

robin andrea said...

I understand going back. When fall rolls around I can feel myself starting to gear up to meet new students. It's been two years since I left the university, but my brain still measures time in semesters and breaks.

I think going back to waitressing (now with the freedom you have) is like dipping into an ongoing flow, one that you can step out of whenever you want. There is a continuity in the work, a rhythm and a season.

colleen said...

Well that got my attention! Maybe waitressing is a good balance to writing and will shake up those ideas.

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Lorna said...

It's always all about the shoes. That's the law.

MB said...

Somehow I think it's different when you don't *have* to go back. At least a little bit different. And when you don't have the *real* shoes!

Kind of like your photograph... you're not really there the way you were once.

And, you still get more material!

And, exercise! ;-)

Patry Francis said...

jess d': thanks for your comment and welcome! I don't even care what kind of shoes you're wearing.

r: hope the hand is feeling better. ouch.

melly: oh yes. That's the big reason to go back--the stories. Plus the comraderie...and the wedding cake! I guess I have a few reasons.

robin: I still remember your wise advice last year when I was moaning about my job and longing to quit. In your own words, you counseled patience, and told me I'd know when the time was right. And now here we are.

colleen: The ideas are shaking like you wouldn't believe! Can't you just picture them?

lorna: Oh, I love laws like that. They're so much fun to break!

mb: What an incredibly astute observation--and one I hadn't realized before. In so many ways, I'm NOT really there anymore.

marja-leena said...

Funny photo! Maybe it's about the wonderful stories you gather at work! (Oh, mb said it already!)

Perfect Virgo said...

Before I even read your piece I peered closer and said "Those are Sketchers." I have a pair just like them and they are my most comfortable by far.

The big difference this time is you can choose when to come and go.

Tarakuanyin said...

If I got published and didn't have to teach any more, I'd probably go back anyway. There's something that pulls me into it. I waitressed for a while, and I don't think I'd go back to that, but I can certainly see where the attraction is for you. And there's something freeing in knowing you don't have to do it, I imagine.

Sky said...

it does seem you returned ON YOUR terms! what better way to approach any job?!

if it is permission you need - you got it! you can quit anytime you see fit, girl! :)

now i am curious - for there to be a "season" are you living in a vacation/resort area?

Fred Garber said...

Bob Dylan once said" please don't judge me by my shoes"

Simply Coll said...

I remember years ago having to wear regulation style shoes, only white nursing shoes were allowed. Now we all wear runners.. thank goodness!!!

Marilyn said...

I LOVE that you burned those shoes. One of the highlights of our years in the tropics was when the club we both worked at (in different capacities) finally 'let' me waitress a few shifts when they were shorthanded. (They thought it was 'beneath' me, so didn't think I'd want to.) I ROCKED THE HOUSE, BABY! Drove that till up like you wouldn't believe. I kept telling them I'd waitressed back in the day, but they wouldn't believe me. I can totally see the merits of it...plus, as Melly said, more material. ;)

zhoen said...

When D had finished his hitch in the military, he burned his laminated ID card. Smelled awful, and I was a bit worried about the fumes.

Without the shoes, you will never be a waitress again, although you may occasionally dabble at it, like a hobby.

Anonymous said...

Funny... I ended up here while seeking new cute shoes to waitress in. It seems like the job is slightly better and easier if you have on cute shoes. My suggestion: ditch the gaudy sketchers and waste a nights pay on some new Mary-Jane's.

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